John Bunyan

I’m reading a little biography of John Bunyan – The Life of John Bunyan (Baker, 1977). I can’t even tell who it’s by. It’s been on my shelf for years. It’s turning out to be mostly autobiography. I had heard part of this section before, but not all of it. It’s really good. Bunyan had been a tortured soul with big ups and downs. But then:

One day, as I was passing into the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest all was not right yet, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, – ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven;’ and methought withal I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand: there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, ‘He wants [lacks] my righteousness,’ for that was just before him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, ‘the same yesterday, to day, and for ever,’ Heb. xiii. 8.

Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed; I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me: now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God; so when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, – ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven,’ but could not find such a saying [how did they do this before computers?]; wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance, – ‘He is made unto us of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,’ 1 Cor. I. 33: by this word I saw the other sentence true.

For by this scripture I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as he is distinct from us as touching his bodily presence, so he is our righteousness and sanctification before God: here, therefore, I lived, for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ; oh! methought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes. I was not now only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of his blood, burial, or resurrection, but considering him as a whole Christ; as he in whom all these, and all other his virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that he sat on the right hand of God in heaven.

It was glorious to me to see his exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all his benefits, and that because now I could look from myself to him, and would reckon that all those graces of God that now were green on me, were yet but like those cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when their gold is in their trunk at home: oh! I saw my gold was in my trunk at home in Christ my Lord and Saviour. Now Christ was all; all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my redemption.

Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union with the Son of God; that I was joined to him, ‘that I was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone,’ Eph. v. 30; and now was that word of St. Paul sweet to me. By this also was my faith in him, as my righteousness, the more confirmed in me; for if he and I were one, then his righteousness was mine, his merits mine, his victory also mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once, – in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person.

Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked upon of God, and should also be looked upon by us, as that common or public person, in whom all the whole body of his elect are always to be considered and reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by him, died by him, rose from the dead by him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell, by him: when he died, we died; and so of his resurrection. ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise,’ saith he, Isa. xxvi. 19. And again, ‘After two days he will revive us, and the third day we shall live in his sight,’ Hos. vi. 2. Which is now fulfilled by the sitting down of the Son of man on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, according to that to the Ephesians, – ‘He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,’ Ephes. ii. 6.

Ah! these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many others of like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine eye, so that I have cause to say, ‘Praise ye the Lord God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness,’ Psa. cl. 1, 2.

(pp. 61-63)


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